Q: My computer is slow to boot and often slow to run. What can I do to improve its performance?
A: You will need to manually select which applications are loaded when Windows boots. The fewer the apps loaded at startup, the faster the boot time.
Editors differ in complexity and power, but all use the same basic step-by-step process. Because of that commonality, I suggest you begin by reading the article from the Oct. 4 editions of The Times, this one and my next article before doing anything to your PC. That way, you'll have a complete overview of the options available, and you can select the right tool for your needs and abilities.
It would be great if all startup items were easy to edit, but they're not. To see and alter the rest of a system's startup items, you need to use a special-purpose startup editor. You already own at least one editor; it's built into your current version of Windows. The System Configuration tool is relatively basic, but it works and is always available.
To open System Configuration in all current versions of Windows, simply type msconfig in the Start menu's text-entry box and press Enter. When System Configuration opens, select the Startup tab. You can drag-adjust the utility's column widths for ease of reading, and you can click on the column headings to sort (or reverse-sort) the listed items.
Spend some time carefully working through your list of startup items to identify software that you don't want or need to autorun at startup. How do you know what's needed at startup? Some of System Configuration's listed startup software will be self-evident. For example, if you see something called "Google Update" or "Java Auto Updater," there's little mystery as to what the software is.
On the other hand, some software isn't so easy to identify by name. In those cases, you can use Google, Bing or the tool of your choice to search for the name of any mystery software. You can also use specialized software-identification tools such as PC Review's free Startup Files Database.
As you identify each piece of startup software, decide whether it really needs to autorun at startup. This is a judgment call. For example, I don't need Google Update in my Startup list. That's because most Google tools (Chrome, etc.) already check for updates when you run them. Having Google Update run at startup is largely redundant.
When you identify software that doesn't need to autorun at Startup, simply uncheck (deselect) it in the System Configuration Startup list. Unchecked items will not run during subsequent startups — simple as that. After you've disabled one or more items, reboot and retime your startup. If it turns out that you disabled something you shouldn't have, simply rerun msconfig, recheck the box to enable the item, and reboot.
Next week we will look at the startup services list.